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Guns and Cars

From: "Mark Villarino" <markv@spectrumchemical.com>
Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001 11:49:18 -0700
To: <letters@latimes.com>
Subject: Reply to an editorial

This is in reply to an editorial titled "A Gun-shy Governor" which can be seen here: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-000067414aug20.story

I'm going to deviate from the body of the editorial that focuses on the wishy-washyness of governor Davis and will, instead, focus on the lack of sense of the comments made in the editorial regarding the analogy of firearms to automobiles.

Automobiles can be purchased by anyone 18 years of age or older regardless of if they have driver's license of not. No background check is done to see if you're prohibited from owning an automobile. You don't have to show proof that you know how to put fuel in the tank, turn the key to start the engine and put it in gear to get it to move before the dealer will sell it to you. And, you can take it home with you the same day. You can operate an automobile on private property without a license. You need to possess a Basic Firearms Safety Certificate and be at least 21 years of age before you can buy a handgun and then you must wait 10 days before you can take it home.

Automobiles can be brought onto school grounds unlike firearms. Many high schools have auto shops where the students regularly work on automobiles. There are no gunsmith classes where students can work on firearms. Automobiles are registered and their operators are licensed yet automobile related incidents kill more citizens in the US than firearms according to the National Safety Council (http://www.nsc.org). Does this make automobiles more deadly than firearms? So, to say "the gun lobby hates the comparison of guns with cars, perhaps because the analogy is makes so much sense" is a fallacy since the analogy clearly does not make so much sense.

As for "tougher rules to ensure that gun dealers comply with state law barring nonresidents and felons from buying handguns." We already have those rules. According to California PC12071, you must establish identity and residency and PC12021 and 12021.1 states that if you've been convicted of a felony (among other restrictions) you are restricted from even possessing a firearm, let alone purchasing one.

If you want to apply the automobile vs. firearm analogy then apply it in the realm of enforcement. What needs to be done is enforce the current firearm laws the way motor vehicle laws are enforced. For example, it is, and has been for a while, illegal to drive an automobile while under the influence of a chemical substance, usually alcohol. Just because DWI is illegal, that doesn't keep people from doing it. Realizing that we already have drunk driving laws in place, a push was made to enforce those laws. That's why sobriety checkpoints were set up. Take that example and replace a few key words: it is, and has been for a while, illegal for a felon to purchase a firearm. Just because that's illegal, it doesn't keep felons from trying to buy firearms. Realizing that we have laws prohibiting felons from purchasing firearms, a push was made to enforce those laws. That's why the National Instant Background Check (NBC) was put in place, to catch people convicted of felonies when they tried to purchase firearms. Yet, according the Bureau of Justice statistics from June of 2000, despite the 536,000 prohibited buyers caught by the (NIBC), only 6,700 (1.25%) have been charged with firearms violations and, according to the U.S. Department of Justice statistics, not one of those were prosecuted in 1996, 1997, and 1998. This would be the equivalent of arresting only 1.25% of the drunk drivers caught at sobriety checkpoints, letting the rest of them drive along in their drunken stupor and of those that were arrested, letting them walk scott free after being released. When was the last time you were in traffic court and you saw all those charged walk out scott free?

More new laws are not the answer unless it can be shown objectively and without a doubt that strict enforcement of the current laws does not work. Instead of pushing for more laws, we should be pushing for more enforcement, more prosecutions, and more punishment for offenders. And, we should expect the same from our representatives. This issue is not about Democrats vs. Republicans, it's about common sense. Criminals don't follow the law so they don't care how many restrictive laws there are regarding firearms. They will still have them. In fact, the fourth amendment to the Constitution, in a sense, prohibits them from registering and licensing requirements because it would be self-incrimination.

If you want all the facts, go to https://www.keepandbeararms.com/images/gunfacts.pdf and read their well documented and referenced book with facts from several government sources as well as academic research studies. Track down the sources and ask yourself what really makes sense: more laws or more enforcement.

Mark Villarino


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